Grieve for It

blogging through my existential despair again

Kyle Turner
5 min readJan 26, 2024

My therapist has not been of much help lately.

All he ever says is “suffering is the result of resistance to suffering” and “one just has to accept that the world simply is”. He might be saying it in less saccharine terms, but his “therapist voice”, which sounds as cloying as cough syrup coating the throat, brings out a certain toddler philosopher quality in the truisms.

He says such things again and again these past few months, after listening to me monologuing in various states of mania about the world crumbling. He says that the world is bad, that it is a bad time to be alive, but also that it has always been bad, and the way to cope is to distract and accept.

That just seems insane to me. Sometimes he’ll just look at me, bespectacled with his hair perfectly parted in the middle and falling just above his jawline. He wants me to become more familiar with my feelings. To which I will say, how much more familiar can I become with all this grief and rage and frustration and helplessness.

Our most recent session this week occurred after a two week hiatus — i had to get a tooth pulled and then he was on vacation — and the two weeks between our appointments, Pitchfork got swallowed up by GQ, Sports Illustrated folded, the LA Times laid off 115 employees, and Conde Nast staged a walkout after layoffs. But the world is bad and has always been bad and I just have to accept that.

Meanwhile, another couple of hundred people in Gaza had been killed, including a Palestinian man shot unarmed as it was filmed by ITV, 21 IDF soldiers died as they were setting up explosives to collapse a building, Al-Isra University campus was destroyed by explosives, photographer and journalist Motaz Azaiza had to evacuate Gaza as it has become too dangerous to document, peaceful protestors at Columbia University were sprayed with Skunk by former IOF soldiers, …

Additionally, Ohio passed HB68, which would “enact the Saving Ohio Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act regarding gender transition services for minors, and to enact the Save Women’s Sports Act to require schools, state institutions of higher education, and private colleges to designate separate single-sex teams and sports for each sex.” Also, housing is unaffordable.

More of my friends have gotten laid off. We are not in a recession, I keep being told. The economy, which functions on vibes apparently, has nothing to do with how people actually live, I am told.

I hate to be a pessimist. I like to be a curmudgeon, and the cynicism I have worn for much of my life was more affectation than a genuine belief in an essential badness about humanity or people. Humanity is capable of both good and evil, but subject to whichever of those parties has accumulated the most power and resources. But when everything feels so magnified, and it appears to be just one thing on top of the other, it feels naive to say, Oh, the world is just bad. It has always been bad. There will always be suffering.

It sounds too defeatist, too at odds with the politics I cultivated for myself — that it was worth the hard fight — to just say “yeah, there will always be suffering.”

I adore my therapist, for the record. And whatever his shortcomings, we have too good a rapport and I’m too lazy to bother to look for another one.

I ask my friends of faith how they maintain it and they say they act in the way that the world could and should be, even if it isn’t that way in the moment.

I was pasting another Free Palestine thing on a scrap piece of paper on my street corner and a man approached me. He seemed to be in his mid 40s, white hair, wearing a silvery running shirt. He came up to introduce himself as the man who had intervened when our Zionist neighbor was screaming in my face. “I would have intervened more had I realized in time what was going on. I was more on your side politically, but when it was happening, I thought there was some real anti semitic thing happening,” he said. “I just wanted to say sorry for not intervening more, and I’m glad you walked away.” Maybe a little glimmer of goodness, right? I hope so.

Is this the kind of existential crisis everyone has on the eve of their thirtieth? I feel so ill prepared for it. I thought my dysfunctional relationship with my mother, my dead father, and my fake it till I made it life equipped me with enough tools to deal with the real world. It’s not like I’m floundering (currently unemployed though I may be). I’m certainly on the precipice of disappointing people around me as I sleep until 4pm. But is this just the sober reality everyone faces at some point?

There were a couple moments in Wednesday’s session where he couldn’t answer me. He said that the world’s badness, the reality of suffering, was just true. He smirked. I asked him why he smirked. He said he didn’t know, that he just smiles when thinking about the truth. I said, in a somewhat snide tone, maybe he should become more familiar with those feelings. I smirked. So did he.

I’ve now reached the point where I have to apologize for bringing up my existential despair because I simply cannot stop talking about it, even to my oral surgeon. While a solid number of my friends and acquaintances seem to have had similar downward trajectories regarding their mental health, there is a modicum of solace in being able to talk about it, to convene with friends and loved ones. But it is little match light in this ocean of darkness.

Yes, as Kirsten Dunst once said, the world is evil and we don’t need to grieve for it. And yet I do.



Kyle Turner

Snarkoleptic. Queer monster. Amateur critic. Professional snob. Writer person. I am relieved to know that I am not a golem. Words in Slate, GQ, the NYTimes, etc